July 2014

July 7, 2014

Plate Handlers = Scary

Okay, so this picture has nothing to do with plate handlers but it kinda freaked me out so, I figured if I'm not going to be able to sleep tonite I might as well take others down with me....tl_files/labsquad/blog_images/Plate Handlers = Scary Stuff/blake.jpg

Just saw a recent survey  from LabManager.com about micrplate handlers (CLICK HERE).

They suggest 6 questions that potential buyers should ask, but I found the list to be a bit...'thin' and was a little disappointed.  A couple of additional questtions might include;

1) Storage - does the robot support both stacks and random access storage?  Very useful when working with incubations and other time sensitive events.  Are the racks removeable?  Very handy for offline load and unload.

2) Gripper - Is the gripper electrically actuated or pneumatically actuated?  Electric (servo) grippers offer the ability to fine tune plate gets or puts.  Pneumatics will obviously require in-house air or a portable compressor.  Also, if you are handling multiple containers or lids, the pneumatic gripper will treat them all alike...not so for the electric.

3) Plate Sensing -Does the gripper include a plate presence sensor?   If, so is it force-based or optical?  Some optical sensors have problems with clear plastics.

4) Safety - Does the plate handler have an E-Stop circuit?   Not all do and even though they can be wimpy compared to industrial robots, there's nothing a quite like an OSHA audit when an unsuspecting operator gets wacked upside the head...

5) Software - Does the plate handler support manual arm movement for teaching or do I have to jog to all locations?   Turning off servo motors but leaving the encoders powered up makes it very simple to grab the arm and place it in approximate locations, whereupon you can repower and fine tune.   Jogging only takes a lot more time.   Also, does the plate handler support Windows 7 or greater?   IT departments everywhere are cracking down on pre Win7 software...


Just a few of my thoughts, perhaps you have some to add...